tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 4, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
then a look at the october jobs report. later, remarks from president obama on the euro zone crisis and the u.s. economy. and now, from libertyville, the life of adlai stevenson. >> ladies and gentlemen of the convention, my fellow citizens, i accept your nomination and your program. [applause] now that you've made your decision, i will fight to win that office with all of my heart and soul.
with your help, i have no doubt that we will win. help me to do the job of conflict and of campaign. we will justify our glorious task and the loyalty of millions who look to us for compassion, for understanding, and for honesty. we will serve our great tradition greatly. i ask of you all you have. i will give you all i have. >> that was our contender this week, adlai stevenson, excepting the democratic nomination for president in 1952. we are joined by richard norton smith in libertyville, illinois.
who was this one-term governor of illinois? >> for millions of americans, that is all he was. the one-term governor of illinois. they have never heard a voice like his. they did not know that a political revolution was being touched off that night. for the next decade, adlai stevenson would be the voice of the democratic party, someone you would transform american politics, even though he was never successful in his quest for the white house. >> how did he get the nomination in 1952? >> he is the last candidate to be drafted. he is the last candidate to require one more balanced at the convention. he did not want the nomination is the short answer.
there was a vacuum in the democratic party. harry truman was retiring. there was no obvious successor. adlai stevenson did a remarkable welcoming address at the chicago convention that had the effect on most of william jennings bryant. it touched off -- a couple days later, he was delivering the speech you just heard. >> welcome to libertyville and "the contenders." we're looking at the man who ran for president and changed american politics. tonight, our focus is adlai's stevenson, 1900 to 1965. we are joined by a well-known author and historian richard norton smith. e're live from libertyville, ill. in just a minute, we'll be
joined by newton minow, who worked at new adlai stevenson. we will be joined by senator adlai stevenson iii, the son of adlai stevenson. richard norton smith, before we leave the office, there are some things sitting around that we want to learn a little bit more about it. first of all, what is this a hand? >> stevenson said that he suffered from a bad case of hereditary politics. there are multiple to narrations of stevenson -- generations of stevensons in the story. the link in connection was a very powerful one. -- lincoln connection was a very powerful one. this is a cast of lincoln's
hand. >> also on the desks is an address book. some of the names and this address book include eleanor roosevelt, jackie kennedy, john steinbeck. >> it hence -- he was a very unusual, a non-politician and a new ways. he -- in many ways. eventually, by millions of americans who proudly declared themselves stevensonians. >> standing between us is this old office chair. cabinetis stevenson's terror. he had an historic stand of the american passenger to the united nations. he was made a member of the
cabinet, this is the chair that commemorate spot. somewhat difficult relationship that he had with the kennedy administration. >> you referred to the dynasty, the stephenson political dynasty. here on the wall or some artifacts. whitevernor stevenson's said -- his grandfather was vice president of the united states. under grover cleveland. he ran again in 1900 under william jennings bryant. this is grandfather stevenson's hat. >> thank you for joining us tonight. live from libertyville, we will work our way it over to the barn on the family farm. we are currently in the study.
next to it is a barn. this is a working farm at some point. we will work our way over there where there is a new display about adlai stevenson. first, we want to show you some campaign commercials so you can see some of the video of adlai stevenson. these are from 1956 and 1952. one of them was felt right here in this study. >> i am sitting right here in my own library. thanks to television, i can talk to millions of people that i could not reach any other way. i am not going to let this spoil me. i am not going to stop traveling in this campaign. i can talk to you, but i cannot listen to you. i cannot hear about your problems, about your hopes and
your affairs. to do that, i have to go out and see you in person. that is what i have been doing. for the past several years, i've traveled all over this country. i have been in every state. i have met thousands of you and millions of you have seen me in. ♪ ♪ stevenson! ♪ i would rather have a man with a hole in his shoes and a man with a hole in everything he says. i would rather have a man that knows what to do when it gets to be the prez. i know the gov will bring the peace and joy
♪ to vote for adlai stevenson a vote vote there of vote for stevenson everywhere all the america loves that farm >> if you should allow it to be your president, next november, i should be the better for having done it, i am sure. because i know that the strength and wisdom that i need must be drawn from you and the people. finally, i hope the next time we meet, it will be a person to person and face to face. >> i am adlai stevenson.
you and i have been hearing from our republican friends that things are so good, they could not be better. do you think that things cannot be better for the small-business man, like this one? small business profits are down 52%. that they cannot be better for our farmers? like these? farm income is down 25%. our year schools good enough for the richest nation in history? a third -- they need a third of a million more classrooms. what about you? are you out of that? you have a comfortable bank role in the bank? are you paying less for the things that you buy? or more? do you really think things cannot be better? of course they can. working together, we will make them better. >> vote democratic. >> rising cost of farming.
lower farm income. caught in a squeeze. a vote democratic, the party for you, not just the few. vote for adlai stevenson. >> we are back live at the stevenson farm in libertyville. we are now joined by newton minow. he is the former chairman of the federal communications commission. for our purposes tonight, he has worked with and was an associate of adlai stevenson for many years. newton minow if you could start by telling us when did you first meet of honor -- gov. stevenson ? >> i was a law clerk at the supreme court. one of our professors came to
visit one day. he later offered my co-clerk a job as his assistant in springfield. it turned out that howard was not interested, but i was. i ended up being interviewed by the governor. at 7:00 for breakfast in the spring of 1952. he said to me, if i hire you, young man, it is there any reason why he would not take the job? it is my current boss runs for president, and it was rumored that he would be a candidate, if he asked me to stay with them, i would like to do that. the governor looked at me and said, i do not think that is very likely. i then drove into his next appointment. i went to work at the supreme
court. i picked up "the new york times ." it said truman offers stevenson the presidential nomination. this was the morning after president truman had asked him to run. i was hired and are reported for work. >> what was the known for as governor? >> even as a student, i worked in his campaign in 1948. he was known as being totally honest, which was not necessarily a prerequisite for election in illinois. he was a different kind of candidate. he was honest, and he was an intellectual, he cared deeply about to good government. he brought a whole different culture to the office of
governor. >> richard norton smith, 1952, sets the stage for us. >> there was a sense that the democrats have been power for 20 years. even the most partisan democrat fact that perhaps the party and the country would be well served by a change. the great issue was which republican party would replace harry truman if harry truman were to leave? would it be be isolationist conservative midwestern party or would it be the international modern republican of the eisenhower? stevenson had to calculate the
chances of which party he might be running against. he was very reluctant to iran. he did not want to run. -- he was very reluctant to iran. >> he did not want to run. he did not want to run against dwight eisenhower. it was like running against jesus christ. if it had been robert taft as the opponent, adlai stevenson would have relished running. there would have been a clear difference in philosophy. you have to remember the democrats tried to draft general eisenhower. the democrats tried to give eisenhower to run as a democrat. eisenhower was a candidate of both parties. >> newton minow, when adlai stevenson did the welcoming address at the democratic national convention in chicago
in 1962 -- in 1962, was he considered a candidate? >> he was not that well known. i remember the first time he appeared on national television. he was on "meet the press." he was never any good on television. he was a lot of fun and a great personality and you always went away feeling better about yourself. when you watched him on television, he was either nervous, but he was never himself. the country did not know him. >> he gets the welcoming address and he gets drafted, went on the second or third ballot. >> that is right. it was really unfortunate because the timing was wrong. if he had run for president against dwight eisenhower, he,
of lakewood of one. >> remember how -- he probably could have won. >> who did you pick for a running mate? senator fromman, alabama. he had to worry about keeping the solid south solid. >> exactly. was picked at the last minute. >> the city had a relationship? >> not really. the way we do things in this country -- >> did you want to be on the 52 ticket? >> he was always interested in running for president. adlai stevenson did not like him. >> he ended up being the vice
president in 56. >> harry truman might tempt even less -- like to him even less. >> harry truman in 1952 and its relationship with adlai stevenson. >> he is regarded as a great president. to commit the united states to the cold war. the fact is at the time, he was a very unpopular president. the korean war was an unpopular war. he fired douglas macarthur, there is a consensus that we did the right thing for the right reason, but at great political cost. harry truman had been in power seven years. he had decided seven years was
enough. he had the power to permit 10 from becoming the nominee. he probably had the power to make adlai stevenson the nominee. without power went to the dead weight of the truman administration. my sense is that true men and -- truamn and stevenson's relationship never quite recovered. >> there was another factor. there was a lot of corruption in the democratic party. there had been a scandal with one of president truman's ts.istanc it was not a happy thing to become the nominee in 1952. as i left the supreme court, i
went to see the chief justice to say goodbye. he was very close friends with truman. the chief said to me, your guy is not going to make it. i said, what? he said, i was with the president last night. he told me that he has lost patience with adlai stevenson. it is going to be barkley. they tried to get it for barkley, but everybody said, he is too old. >> we are live from libertyville, the stevenson family farm, about 40 miles outside of chicago. the phone numbers are on the screen because we want to hear from you as well.
the results in 1952, by the way, that election was held 59 years ago tonight, november 4, 1952. adlai stevenson wons 27 million votes. he got 89 electoral votes and won nine states. dwight eisenhower, 442 electoral votes. he won the 34 million votes. he won the rest of the states, which would have been 41 states. >> one thing to keep in mind is compared with 1948. in losing, stevenson got 3 million more votes than truman
had three years earlier. dwight eisenhower got 12 million more votes. you have the largest increase in voter participation since the 18 twenties. you had two outstanding candidates. each were able to excite the electorate. >> here is a little bit more of adlai stevenson at the 1952 convention. >> what does concern me is not just winning this election. but how it is one. how we can take advantage of this great opportunity to debate issues sensibly and soberly. i hope and pray that we democrats will win or lose, can campaign, not as a crusade to
exterminate the opposing party, as our pundit seem to prefer, but as a great opportunity to educate and elevate a people whose destiny is leadership. peopleell the american the truth, there are no gameins without pain. >> newton minow, where were you 59 years ago tonight? >> i was in the governor's mansion. one thing that topped the american people about stevenson was the way he conceded defeat. he gave the most graceful, patriotic talk. he pledged to support president eisenhower. he ended with a story that he
remembered from abraham lincoln. it was a story about a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark. he said, it hurts too much to laugh, but i am not old enough to cry. people saw his character with that. he was a patriot who loved his country and was willing to support a new president. >> let's take some calls. the first call is paul in iowa. >> hello. i want to thank c-span for doing this. this is a great series. i have recently finished reading -- he puts forth a very
negative view of adlai stevenson campaign for president. he claimed he spent too much time attacking nixon. it was a blemish on a very stellar career. the think that the campaign was a low point of stevenson's political career? did he spend too much time attacking nixon? should she have focused on farm issues more? should he have focused on war and peace issues? thank you very much. >> let's start with newton minow. 1956 campaign. >> 1956 campaign, in my opinion, was not as stellar as it was the 1952 campaign.
the reason for the emphasis on nixon in 1956 was the fact that president eisenhower had suffered a bad heart attack and had some bad health problems. there was great concern in the country of what would happen if present eisenhower -- president eisenhower was reelected and he died during the second term and nixon became president. there was a good reason to go after nixon because nixon did not have the character to be president. >> i think the 1956 campaign, from a historical standpoint, it is the campaign that laid the groundwork for the new frontier. that is the campaign when adlai stevenson embraced the idea of a nuclear test ban treaty.
that is the campaign when he endorsed a constitutional amendment so 18-year-olds could vote. in terms of foreshadowing policy to,, 1956 turns out to open a fountainhead of ideas. you are right, the last speech on election eve where he said the medical evidence suggested a real possibility that richard nixon would become president. that is something that tom dewey had not done in 1944 under somewhat similar circumstances. you did not go there. in some ways, he paid a price for that. >> you are right. the nuclear test ban, which was very unpopular point of view to take in 1956, he took it very courageously because he believed
in it deeply. he said -- someone asked what the weapons would be in world war iv, and he said there would be sticks and stones. >> between 1952 and 1956, was adlai stevenson and going to get the nomination again? >> i would have to answer that with a yes and no. he hoped that might someday be president, but he also knew that if you ran against president eisenhower again, the odds were very much against them. i was one of the few people around him that kurds to and not to run in 1956. he felt an obligation to the democratic party. >> here is a little bit of adlai stevenson at the 1956 convention. >> i come here on a solid
mission. -- solemn mission. i accept your nomination and your program. [applause] i pledged to every resource of mind and strength that i possess to make a good win for our country and our party. four years ago, i stood in this same place and under those same words to you. four years ago, i did not seek the honor that you bestowed upon me. this time, as he may have noticed, it was not entirely unsolicited. [laughter]
[applause] there is another big difference. that time, we lost. this time, we will win. [applause] >> newton minow, you started laughing what you listen to that video. >> when he said it was unsolicited, it reminded me. in 1955, stevenson gave a speech at the university of texas and i was asked to go with them. it was right after president eisenhower had suffered his heart attack. lyndon johnson, the majority leader of the senate, had also suffered a heart attack. we were to spend the night at london's branch -- lyndon's
grant. we got there late. mrs. johnson was very upset because the doctor told her about lyndon johnson should be sleeping. and he was get up -- he was up until 2:00 in the morning. on the way home, just the two of us for traveling. adlai stevenson said to me, if i want the nomination next year, i will have to run in the primaries. i said, they are right. if president eisenhower does not to run, every democrat is going to want the nomination and you'll have to fight for it. if president eisenhower does run, you ought to forget about it. he said, i am not going to run in those primaries. i am not going to be a candidate like i am running for sheriff. i am not gone to do. of course, he ended up doing it
because that is where the system -- that is the way the system operated. >> joe m. los angeles, we are talking about adlai stevenson. >> i want to jump ahead to the 1960's. what you thought his relationship with the kennedys was. i know he was nominated in that convention and because of that, there were still feelings with jack kennedy. what would have happened if he had been made secretary of state? with this situation in vietnam have been different? >> let's start with richard norton smith. >> that is a very wide subjects. it is certainly true that it was not a warm relationship between
the kennedys and governor stevenson. in 1956, he had done something no one else had done. he had thrown at the nomination for the vice presidency opened. he left the convention decide. jack kennedy came with then an eyebrow -- with an eyebrow of winning the nomination. in the end, -- it introduced into the country, paved the way for his campaign in 1960. it is also safe to say that the way in which gov. stevenson --
one of the distinguished visitors that came to this house was jack kennedy. he very much wanted adlai stevenson's endorsements, who did not get it. if he was ever going to be secretary of state, i think that possibility went down the drain right then. >> we will talk a little bit later about the kennedy relationship and his years as u.n. ambassador. the results in 1956, adlai stevenson won 73 electoral votes. he got 26 million votes, about 1 million less than he got four years earlier. dwight eisenhower, 457 electoral votes. he won 41 states. it was the last election were there were only 48 states in the nation. dwight eisenhower won about 35
million votes. our next call, akron, ohio. >> thank you. this is a great honor to be watching this type of program. i have a comment and a question. richard norton smith stole my thunder about the 1956 convention and jack kennedy. one of my favorite comments was something that harry truman said about adlai stevenson, that is spent more time thinking about what he was going to do rather than doing it. he spent a lot more time talking to college presidents that he did to cabdrivers. anyway, 1956, richard norton smith made a comment to adlai stevenson doing something unprecedented in, opening the conviction -- the convention to
picking a vice presidential nominee. very few people really know -- there were two other candidates in contention for that position. hubert humphrey and al gore sr. seeing as how jack kennedy was out of it, would that tickets have been a little bit better had it have been al gore sr. or hubert humphrey? also, i guess what i was going to say -- >> let's leave it there. that is a lot of questions. >> certainly, kefauver did not
help. i think what richardson about kennedy was exactly correct. the opportunity to be at the convention and to be seen as a vice presidential possibility introduced jack kennedy to the country. i remember a few years later, i saw him at a dinner and i said, jack, if you are so interested, you can get be nomination for vice president next time. he said, vice-president? i am going to run for president. he was only 39 years old. >> the caller raises a point that i am sure the governor stevenson kurds many times during his lifetime. the notion that talked over the heads of people. what was his reaction to that?
>> i think he did not talk over the heads of the people. they used to call them an egghead. he is to make fun of that. egghead's of the world unite. you have nothing to lose but your yolks. i think he reached people. he had a great sense of humor. one time he gave a speech in san francisco. a woman came of to him after the speech and said governor, after that speech, every thinking american is going to vote for you. and he said, thank you, madame. unfortunately, i need a majority. he knew what the situation was. >> next call comes from tennessee. >> thank you. it is a great show. my father was an academic and i grew up in washington, d.c.
and remember my father talking about how great adlai stevenson was. the reason i am calling this the i was struck by the 1952 electoral map. it seems like a sparkman strategy one. -- won. he did not get tennessee and he did not give his own state, illinois. >> i think it pained him that in i'd read those presidential elections, he won illinois. he had been elected governor of illinois by the largest margin in the history of the state. they elected this new deal liberal democrats and it was not surprising that he counted on
winning it in 1952. >> if he had run for governor in 1952, even with president eisenhower's running on the republican -- he would have won the governorship again by a larger margin. >> newton minow, today, we talk about taxes, spending, social security. those are some of the issues we look at during the campaign. in 1952, in 1956, what were the main issues that were talked about? >> 1952, the big issue was korea and. we were bogged down in a war there. president eisenhower says, i they plan, i will go to korea. the country thought he would end
the war in korea. the other big issues were the same issues we have today. we have the same issues that divided the country back in the 1950's. education, the economy was better than than it is now. there was less unemployment. this country is equally divided. if you look at the last 10 presidential elections, with the single exception of johnson and goldwater in 1964, they have all been decided by a few points. the country is equally divided. >> in 1956, here is a little bit of adlai stevenson talking about the democratic platform. >> to the threshold of a new
america. in the america of the great ideals and noble vision. i knew america where poverty is abolished and our abundance is used to enrich the lives of every family. [applause] i mean a new america where freedom is made real for all, without regard to race or belief or economic conditions. [applause] i mean a new america with the
ancient ideas -- these are the things i believe then. these are the things i will work for. >> we are live in libertyville at the adlai stevenson farm. boston, you are on the air. >> i was very young and during the era of president kennedy and adlai stevenson. in 1960, a couple of weeks before his assassination, adlai
stevenson went to texas, where he was in convention mood because they threw oranges to him from the balcony. he called president kennedy and told him not to come to texas. at least a bulletproof car, which she did not do. on the other side of the a question, i believe president kennedy and his brother had a little bit too much ego. if adlai stevenson knew that comment he would have treated his demeanor -- there would have been more listening. >> we will get an answer from both our guests.
>> i think it was a united nations event in dallas. after words, he was struck by some protesters. a classic rejoinder -- i do not want to prosecute them, i want to educate them. >> he was very aware of the dangers, but i would not go as far as the questioner dead. -- did. he made that commitment and wanted to keep it. talking about the relationship of adlai stevenson and president kennedy. during the 1960 campaign, norman vincent peale had organized a group of other clergymen and they said that jack kennedy was
on qualified to be president because of his religion. adlai stevenson was asked about it. he compared it to st. paul. he said, i find st. paul appealing and norman vincent peale appalling. he could always worked a joke. politics today has no humor. i do not -- with the exception of bob dole, i do not see any politician today, either party, who has a great sense of humor. >> do you think it worked against stevenson? he always had these wonderful quips. >> abraham lincoln went around telling stories all the time. i do not think it hurt him.
i think people like to have someone who has a sense of humor. >> next call, poughkeepsie, new york. >> hi. i would like to know when stevenson was a child, was there an incident where he accidentally shot his friends? how did that influence his presidential campaign? >> did he ever talk about that? >> there was a tragic accident in childhood when there was a loose gone in the family -- gun in the family and adlai stevenson accidentally shot and killed another child. i never heard him say anything about it.
who knows? >> he was 12 years old at the time. one did get the sense that the family moved on. it was not something that they dwelled on. years later, i he expressed astonishment that his wife knew about the incident. it would suggest that he really kept it very close to his vest. >> who was his wife? >> his wife was a woman who came from a very fine upperclass family. she was not very interested in politics. she disliked politics. when adlai stevenson went into politics, i do not think she was very happy about it. they came to a parting of ways. >> that was in 1949. >> he had been elected before the divorce.
>> did the divorce her temper and the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns -- did that -- did the divorce occurred to him during the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaign? >> president reagan was divorced. today, we have public officials living without -- nobody raises -- there has been a vast cultural change. >> one more instance of stevenson being ahead of his time. >> we are live from libertyville. theodore is on the line it. go ahead with your question or comment. >> i appreciate the program very much. i am a senior in a nearby senior retirement community.
participating in a regular memoir group. we have been asked to write what good things from the 1950's should be carried into the 21st century. i happen to be present at the 1952 election were he voted in vernon township. it was next to a congregational church. my question is, what significance do you placed to that icon of the hole in his shoe? how would you summarize what could be carried into the 21st century? >> let's start with richard norton smith. >> stevenson was a man who
flattered our intelligence. he spoke up to us. he did not speak down to us. he is arguably the last national politician. he believed that a presidential campaign was first and foremost an educational exercise. >> what do you mean by that? >> he was forever running at a time. they would cut him off in the middle of the speech. he could not believe that people would not take sufficient amount of time to educate themselves, to listen to a thoughtful, sober, substantive issue- oriented appeals from candidate on both sides. that is how he approached running for office. that is how the approach to governing illinois. i have heard him say more than once that a campaign was an educational exercise, not only
for the public, but also for the candidate. an opportunity for the candidate to educate himself or herself about the country. i also heard them say -- heard him say, there are worse things that can happen to someone then losing an election. >> what is a stevensonian? >> new mexico head. -- an egghead. a wit, self deprecatory, someone who has been very little patience with the political claptrap that spin doctors have foisted upon us. i cannot imagine adlai
stevenson being handled by any such individual. >> it would never happen. i was much a member of an american delegation to a conference in japan and our delegation was rumsfeld. we were having dinner and i said, why did you go into politics? he said, it was all because of a speech given to my graduating class at princeton. were you when the class of 1954? he looked at me and said, how did you know that? i said, i know the speech. it is the best speech adlai stevenson ever gave in his life. it was a speech about why everyone should devote some of their life to public service.
he gave me a paragraphs verbatim of the speech. he pulled out a wallet and pulled out a torn copy of the speech. i said that is why you went into politics? he said, that is why i went into politics. if you read his new book, he starts off by quoting from that speech. his biggest contribution was making politics respectable and honorable. jack kennedy used to say politics is an honorable profession. i think he got back from adlai stevenson. >> adlai stevenson and ellen had three sons. adlai stevenson iii was a marine in 1952. >> he takes time out from this campaign to attend the graduation of his son from the
marine officer candidate school in quantico, virginia. it is a proud father and an equally proud son on occasion important to both. >> wheat -- live on your screen is senator adlai stevenson iii, he is in his father's study on the family farm. senator stevenson, thank you for opening up this facility for us. what was your role in the 1952 and 1956 campaign? >> in the 1952 campaign, i was in the marine corps. i did not have a role in that campaign. they were involved in the 1956 campaign.
>> what role did a real plague in your father's campaign -- did korea play in your father's campaign? >> korea became an issue though it was not an issue, but did adversely affected my father's campaign. he was advised to say if elected president, i will go to korea. that is exactly what general eisenhower said. my father refused to do that because he felt that if he made that commitment to go there and arrange a truce, -- the eisenhower administration was weakened by this commitment of eisenhower to end the war. i do not think it affected -- my involvement did not have any
effect at all. >> he served in the u.s. senate from 1970 until 1981 for the state of illinois. he voluntarily step down in 1980, ran for governor twice for this state. what made you enter the family business? >> i was born with a hereditary case of politics. if might be -- is by business, you mean my career. we did not think of it as a business. i am paraphrasing my father. >> of course, the first adlai stevenson served as vice president and secretary of state for illinois. and now we are joined by senator stephenson. he is in his father's study in
the home that -- in libertyville. we are in what used to be the barn and it is right next door. it is now set up with an exhibit. what is going on here? >> this home, which really became our base over the years, is now the home of the adlai stevenson center for democracy. we try to bring people together from all parts of the world to address the systemic weaknesses in democratic systems of government and continued the stevenson legacy. this was the home, but it really became the base from which we arrange the world not allowed to serve and springfield, but also serve and springfield, but also